Friday, October 28, 2011

Darth Vader, Superman, and Frank Garcia

Remember the end of Return of the Jedi when Darth Vader's mask comes off and we see that he's just a soft, puffy old man who looks about as scary as a moldy marshmallow?

Or that scene in Superman 2 where Superman--who gave up his powers so he could be with Lois Lane--gets the snot beat out of him by some goofy hick in a diner?

Well...the events on Texas's death row yesterday weren't exactly the same, but things still seemed mighty weird. Here was Frank Garcia, cop killer and multiple murderer, preparing to die without being allowed to order a special last meal.

Last meals and executions have gone hand-in-hand as long as anyone can remember, and Texas executes more inmates by far than any other state. So to see this grim ceremony performed without its last meal tradition was a bit strange. A bit unsettling. And, I must admit, a bit depressing.

Texas lawmakers gave special last meals the axe last month after one condemned man ordered a huge dinner then refused to eat even a bite of it. Now Texas inmates are given the same daily meal as all the other prisoners, with no option to make a special request.

Frank Garcia, the first man to be executed under the new regulation, decided to eat nothing at all.

Does the new rule make sense? Maybe. Do death row inmates deserve a special meal? Not really. But just like substituting tofu for a nice, thick, greasy hamburger, the process will take some time to get used to.

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